How to Play to Your Dog’s Strength

"Panting Dog" by James Barker

Are you playing to your dog’s problem solving style? Photo by James Barker

Father’s Day is a time to celebrate the father figure in your life. One of the lessons my dad taught me is to play to my strengths. The example story that stuck with me, as I love dogs, was about his mixed breed dog in college named Astro. My dad saw a sign on campus saying that an injured dog needed a home; this dog, Astro, had a big wound on his back. With medical care, Astro’s fur from his backside had to be shaved, and other humans were quick to make fun of his naked appearance. If you wanted to pet a dog for the feeling of fuzzy fur, Astro was not your dog. What he lacked in fur, my father said this dog had in intelligence.

What made this dog so smart? The recurring story told by my parents was about an afternoon they went out to eat at a restaurant. Astro sat patiently outside and waited for them, like he usually did. Yet this time, when they left the restaurant, Astro was not there. For hours my parents searched for Astro, and when they did not find him, they went back to the restaurant to find Astro sitting outside patiently waiting for them. It seems he needed to go to the bathroom at the same time my parents were exiting the restaurant hours earlier. Anecdotes like this one are what supported my dad’s claim that Astro was a smart one.

My dad was more right than he knew. A study from Dr. Juliane Kaminski, one of our Scientific Advisory Board members, revealed that dogs know where our eyes are looking and will use it to their advantage. Astro knew my parents weren’t watching him and picked this time to disobey their command of “stay” to go off and relieve himself. Definitely shows that even the most well-trained dogs can be wily when they know their human isn’t watching to catch them in the act!

Our Cunning games assess where your dog falls on the spectrum of trustworthy to wily. Trustworthy dogs are slower to lick the unattended plate or jump on the off limit furniture when you aren’t looking than if you are looking. Many people are surprised to learn their dog isn’t as trustworthy as they thought! Most times our dogs aren’t as blatantly wily as this beagle below:

Being able to know the human perspective is quite genius! Wouldn’t you say? To find out where your dog falls on the Cunning spectrum, purchase a Dognition Assessment Toolkit. You’ll also find out more about your dog’s communication, reasoning, and memory abilities. Knowing this information will help you discover your dog’s problem solving style so that you can play to your dog’s strengths. Being mindful will open doors in your relationship with your dog.

Go to our Facebook page and let us know. How do you play to your dog’s strengths?